CALS is a paralegal school that has specialized exclusively in the education of paralegals since opening our doors in 1987.Read More
There are many ways to become a paralegal. For James Scheffer, Director of Admissions at Center for Advanced Legal Studies, his role in the legal field came as something of a surprise. He had never even heard the term ‘paralegal’, but the United States’ Armed Forces provided the opportunity and a life-long vocation that began by chance.
If you dread the mere thought of “public speaking,” you are among millions of individuals who feel the same way. Giving a speech ranks above snakes, death and financial ruin in the hierarchy of human fears. Furthermore, it doesn’t take a large audience to trigger panic. Just presenting material out loud to one person can set your heart pounding and your mouth feeling as dry as the Gobi Desert.
Eric H. HappeDirector of Distance EducationCenter for Advanced Legal Studies
This series addresses some technical issues important for anyone thinking about taking paralegal classes online. In Part 1 of this series, I discussed the importance of Learning Management Systems. I would like now to discuss the synchronous component of our online paralegal classes, Blackboard Collaborate.
Some may think of online or distance learning as completely asynchronous, meaning students and instructors access course content at different times and post assignments and updates periodically. This is indeed an effective and necessary component of distance learning, but unfortunately doesn't provide the synchronous or real-time component many enjoy and expect when taking classes.
Thomas B. Swanson, J.D.
Academic Dean and Faculty
"Students realize that I'm committed to them entering the field and doing well..."
An Original Paralegal Instructor
Thomas Swanson is an original. He was the first teacher that the Center for Advanced Legal Studies hired 27 years ago and his crusty charm, self-effacing humor, and extensive knowledge of the law make him someone to impress and emulate for students and faculty alike.
An Original Paralegal
Born in Washington, D.C., Swanson served in the United States Air Force from 1971 to 1976 where he worked primarily as a paralegal. He received a Commendation Medal for his outstanding service as an investigator in the USAF Foreign Claims Commission in Taipei, Taiwan. After obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Florida, he came to Houston, where he entered the South Texas College of Law, graduating with a Doctorate of Jurisprudence. He was licensed as Texas attorney by the Supreme Court of Texas in May of 1981. After having worked for a number of years at an established Houston law firm, Swanson started his own firm in 1986.
It's your life. You have the starring role. But what's your vision?
Because you are reading this I'm guessing you are interested in being cast as a player in the legal professon. Maybe a leading role as a paralegal. But how do you decide? And, how do you get started?
Here are 6 questions that will help you define your vision.
1. If the world were your oyster and you could have any career, what would it be?Don't ponder the answer for long. What comes to your mind immediately? Steer clear of those intruding thoughts that begin telling you why it can't be done or that it's a silly idea. Asking yourself this question helps you clear away the clutter. In keeping with our theme, it helps you audition in the right play and for the right role.
"The only thing worse than being blind is having NO VISION."
There is no doubt about it, attorneys often come to rely on their paralegals to conduct client interviews. In fact, most of the lists that outline the responsibilities of paralegals include 'conducting interviews'. The National Association of Legal Assistants - Paralegals and most other paralegal - related organizations place the following item at the top of their list:
Conduct client interviews and maintain general contact with the client, so long as the client is aware of the status and function of the legal assistant, and the legal assistant works under the supervision of the attorney.
Having good, solid interviewing skills and technique is important and can help you gain leverage whether you are just starting out as a paralegal or have legal experience. The ability to interview clients is valuable enough that many campus and online paralegal programs include an Interviewing and Investigation course.
Here are a few basic interviewing tips that will help you as you prepare for and advance your paralegal career.
There are specific reasons people choose to buy one product over another.
Selection criteria might be made based on size, color, texture, fit, cost, what your girlfriend said or what your mother prefers.
There is a lot to consider. If you are going to be pleased with your purchase you want to enjoy what the product provides and be happy with the benefits, service, and results.
Choosing where to receive your paralegal education is no different. Size of classes, depth and breadth of courses, tuition, class structure, graduate success, and employer satisfaction all play into making the right choice.
Here are 8 things to consider when choosing the right paralegal program.
1. Specialization. Today, people understand the importance of specialization. Probably foremost from experiences with the medical field. A more recent move to specialization has taken place in law firms. It makes sense; focus on a specific area to gain more knowledge, ability, and success.
Michelle Baker – Tenacious Professional
It was the strict admonition of a caring parent that triggered Michelle’s interest in the law. When the movie Helter Skelter came out, her father felt his 18-year-old daughter was too young for its graphic content. She did not watch the movie, but she did become curious. So when she came across the book several years later, she bought it and read it. But it was not the gruesome details of Charles Manson’s murderous rampage that captured Michelle’s imagination, it was the law and its machinations that the prosecutor employed to try to bring the famed killer to trial. She was amazed at the detail, complexity and depth in the law and she was hooked.
Whether you’re interested in a paralegal education or already a paralegal, you may be wondering what jobs are available for paralegals. What if you are not interested in working as a traditional paralegal? Are you looking for something different, but don’t know what else you can do with a paralegal certificate or degree? Here are just a few related jobs that applicants with paralegal training can branch into:
Do you enjoy reviewing contracts? A contract administrator makes sure the parties involved practice due diligence and comply with the terms, conditions, rights and obligations of a contract. He or she also coordinates any changes to the agreement that might occur over the course of the contract and performs the closeout process when both parties have met their obligations. If you loved your Corporate and Business Law class, then this may be an area of interest for you!
The great debate
When employers look to hire a new employee, which do they believe is better—education or experience? Does book knowledge outweigh hands-on experience? Or would a “seasoned” employee be a better addition to the team?
Those on the education side quickly cite various statistics on the impact of education on a person’s future, employability, and earnings. Yet, those who lean to the side of experience always bring up famous college dropouts like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
Someone with a formal education and considered “book smart” may easily deal with real-world work situations. However, they may still have a hard time landing that first job if they lack experience. On the other hand, the person with experience but lacking any formal education may do well in certain positions. However, they may find it difficult to advance professionally in their chosen career.
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Center for Advanced Legal Studies
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